Hiring manager meeting with candidate- Hays careers advice

Have you ever questioned your own interview skills, despite being the one sat in the hiring seat? Interviewing isn’t an everyday task for most and, and understandably, this means the majority of hiring managers are admittedly out of practice. For some, the process can be almost as daunting for them, as it is for the interviewee. 

If this sounds like you, then you could be doing your business a huge injustice without even realising. After all, we all know that interviews are supposed to be a two-way dialogue. So, interviewers must always be aware that interviews are as much about the candidate interviewing you as an employer of choice, as it is the other way around.

By brushing up on your interview skills, and learning a few quick tricks to help keep the interviewee engaged and alert, you will not only ensure the candidate is put at ease (and as a result, gives their best performance), but you can be sure that they will leave only having good things to say about your organisation. Here’s how:

1. Set the tone with a strong introduction

The way in which you open the interview will set the tone for the entire meeting, so make sure you capture the candidate’s attention from the outset by delivering a welcoming and engaging introduction which brings the company and role to life. I recommend the below structure:

  • Share your story. Begin the interview as you usually would any other meeting, by introducing yourself and your role. Give a bit of background about how you got to where you are, how long you have been with the company for, how your role relates to the vacancy in question, and what you personally like about your job. By opening yourself up to the candidate and sharing your story, you will make the candidate feel at ease and like they know you better as a person.
  • Sell them the role. Now provide a brief overview of the role you are recruiting for, where it sits within your team, and how it links to the wider business. Highlight the best features of the job, using feedback from previous employees if possible. Elaborate on the scope for development within the role, be it in the form of a promotion plan or training opportunities. Tell the candidate what this role means for the company and industry as a whole, and help them to imagine having a sense of purpose.  If somebody can understand the importance and meaning behind what they do for a living, this can increase their levels of engagement. Also, use this as an opportunity to really outline exactly what you are looking for in a candidate. Try to be specific here, as this will help the candidate tailor their answers once questioning begins.
  • What makes your company great? Next, try asking the candidate what they know about the company to (a) make this introduction more two-way and (b) keep them on their toes!  Once the candidate has finished telling you what they know about your organisation, fill in any necessary blanks. Don’t just talk about facts and figures, for instance, how many employees you have, or when the company was formed. Try to give them an insight into what life is like at your organisation, and enable them to imagine working there. Describe things like the company culture, and what makes it a great place to work. You should also mention any industry accolades which set you apart from the competition, plus any interesting or widely known projects which you have been involved with. What can often excite candidates, is the prospect of having a market leader who is renowned in their field.

Now that you have given the candidate the information that they need to really get enthused, give them a chance to showcase this enthusiasm through an engaging interview question and answer session.

2. Don’t follow a script

Prior to the interview, I recommend you prepare a list of the questions you will want to ask the candidate. However, it’s important the interview doesn’t feel sterile and overly-routine, as if you are simply reading off a script.

In order to demonstrate that you aren’t just going through the motions, make sure that you show the candidate that you are interested in their answers through your body language, for instance; nodding in agreement, leaning in and making eye contact. If necessary, ask questions or comments surrounding their answers, and make time for these tangents.

Just recently, I was interviewing a candidate, who, upon describing her typical day within her recruitment role, mentioned in passing that she had been organising a client breakfast seminar. I happened to be looking for somebody who could take the lead in planning these types of event, so I asked the candidate to elaborate upon her involvement in this task.

As soon as I did this, I saw the candidate become much more animated, telling me about how she organised everything from start to finish, achieved high turnout figures, positive feedback and a number of follow-up meetings with key clients. Had I not done this, I wouldn’t have sparked that burst of energy or realised her suitability for the job.

In making time for unplanned, but interesting tangents, you can learn more about the candidate, and avoid a clinical, stiff interview which bores the both of you!

3. Bring the interview to life

This candidate may be going on a number of interviews, so your one needs to stand out. You aren’t limited to a standard question and answer session across a desk. Make time at the end of the interview to show the candidate where they will be working to help them feel what life will be like at your organisation.  Introduce them to the team and show them around the office. Alternatively, get other people to come in ask some of the questions or show videos of key team members.

In short, remember to keep the interview engaging, interesting and conversational. In doing this, you sell the opportunity to the candidate as much as you would expect the candidate to sell themselves to you. More so, you will stay in their mind as an employer of choice, ensuring that they walk away saying only good things about you, your organisation and the opportunity in hand.

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Author

Susie joined the Hays group in 1997 and is now responsible for the Global People & Culture strategy for Hays Talent Solutions, our outsourced recruitment solutions business.

Susie’s role is to design and deliver on a strategic programme to ensure that we have the right people, with the right skills to grow our business. This involves developing our Employer Brand to ensure that we attract and retain the best talent. It also means enabling an exceptional learning and development programme that allows each individual a unique platform on which to develop their career and creating a culture in which our people thrive.

Previous roles within Hays have included Global Mobility Director and Business Development Director for Europe. Prior to Hays, Susie worked for the Lloyds TSB group. Susie has an MA in Geography from Oxford University.